13th May 2016, New Delhi: Ahead of the Men’s Hockey Champions Trophy team announcement next week, midfielder Manpreet Singh is optimistic his team is ready to take on world beaters like Germany, Australia and Holland in the high-voltage tournament starting 10th June.
“We have beaten teams like Holland twice in the past two years. We beat them in Champions Trophy 2014 and then in the World Hockey League Final. Likewise we have beaten Germany and also Australia (in Test Series). We don’t feel scared to take on big teams anymore. We don’t think of ourselves as the underdogs. In fact, we go with the confidence that we are as good as any other team if not better,” says the 24-year-old.
India will face Germany in their opening match on June 10 and Singh believes this tournament will provide the platform to fine tune their game further in the lead-up to the Olympics. “We will find out where we need further improvement to our game. We can access each of our abilities to perform under pressure because each of these matches will be high intensity. Also if we make mistakes here, we will have some time to correct them before the Olympics,” he says.
Singh idolises Moritz Fürste, the Captain of the German squad, and the fact that he got to play alongside him during the Hockey India League has helped him improve his game. “For youngsters like me HIL gave us the platform to interact with top players on and off the field. During HIL I got to learn from players like Moritz Fürste and Barry Middleton (England) how to play under pressure situations, how to play a back drive while playing defence and also how to control the game when you are in the lead. I believe these things has helped me mature as a player,” he says.
Speaking of Singh’s progress, Chief Coach Roelant Oltmans feels the midfielder’s role has brought value to his scheme of things for the team. “Manpreet brings attitude, leadership and he brings the mentality of a winner. I think these qualities for a young player like him are very important. He is a winner and we need winners like him in the team. I have seen him evolve as a more mature players in these past few years since the previous Olympics,” he says.